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Two Relocation and HR Lessons from the Worldwide ERC Conference

As you know, I recently attended the Worldwide ERC conference in Chicago, IL. I love leaving a conference with my head filled with new experiences, new friends and a whirlwind of new educational information. In addition to my learnings about big data and relocation, which I discussed in my last post, I also took away two recurring lessons that I want to share here. These lessons dominated my dinner table conversation so, clearly, everyone is thinking about it!

  1. Frequent business travelers may get caught up in tax regulation. Frequent domestic business travelers are typically stealth employees that are seldom tracked. In fact, many companies lack formal policies for tax treatment, Lessons Learned HR and Relocationeven if they have experience with these policies for international business travelers. If you are thinking that this does not apply to your business, you should ask yourself how frequently some of your employees travel. If you have a lot of frequent business travelers, it’s important to know that non-resident employees traveling to different states might need to have state income tax withheld in those states. Further, the eligible population to get tangled up in legislation is typically anyone who travels beyond 50 miles one to 5 months out of the year. Since 50 states means 50 different sets of tax rules, this can land employees and employers in hot water. For this reason, companies should develop formal domestic U.S. short term assignment and commuter policies, along with internal tracking methodology to ensure compliance.
  1. Relocation is no longer a one-size fits all affair. Today, relocation policies should be balanced, compliant, flexible, effective and, most importantly, they should offer a quality experience for your transferee. That’s a tall order! But, it can be done. Koch Industries, for example, offers their employees “Relocation Guidelines” instead of hard policies. Each transferee is counseled to ensure they receive the benefits that are most important to them and to ensure a successful relocation in accordance with their guidelines. Further, according to Jack Jampel, Stryker, any company’s objective of global mobility should be to ensure it offers a positive experience for the transferee. Consistency is important, but we also need to consider the transferee experience so that talent is retained, productive and positive. In today’s talent market, ROI needs to be considered on an individual basis. Is this a challenge? Yes. As an industry we need to look at how to personalize measurements effectively. Bust, as Jampel always says, “success begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

Whew my head is spinning but all in all it was another great conference. What has been your experience with inflexible policies versus flex policies? Are you seeing a trend towards more flexible “guidelines” versus hard policies? Have you had an opportunity to attend a Worldwide ERC conference? What was your experience over all?

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MIKE CANNING
VP, Client Services

RICK CALANNI
VP of Business Development Northeast Region

 

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